Back when I was a pro, I would have written these all up and then posted them in reverse order so that you could read them top to bottom. Well, it was a rough two years in that dungeon and you will have to accept what is left of my ragged, diminished soul.
Governor’s Drought Proclamation, items 6-10.
6. This item strikes me as an opportunistic way to re-purpose old bond capacity. I believe there are some old bond items that were closely written for a use that never panned out, primarily items authorizing bond funds for low-interest loans for ag water conservation. They went out for proposals once or twice and never got any takers, because there were also grants available at the time. Now interest rates are so low that these bond funds still aren’t interesting. I am guessing that this is a way to reach back to those bond funds and use them without having to go back to the legislature to get them authorized for a new purpose.
7. This one is straightforward, no? Junior appropriators, back off. Enforcement interests me more than “notice”, but I don’t know how this is enforced. Flyovers to look at what is green when it shouldn’t be? Satellite pictures? Real wardens, going out to look?
8. Man, what a dilemma for the State Board. Choose between current river water quality, which they love, and future river water quality, which they also love?
9. Chris Clarke is already on this one; I think the enviro line is that Governor Brown has suspended CEQA for actions that mitigate the effects of the emergency. Maybe they brainwashed me in that dungeon, but I’m not convinced this is awful.
My most cynical self says that all the State agencies are going to do about the drought is have a nice website and write up monthly impact reports. And maybe feed people in Mendota. None of those require CEQA. If this waives CEQA for water transfers, it poses the same problems as “expediting” the water transfer process. But I also have heard that CEQA is just a monster problem for water transfers. It can take months to do a CEQA analysis on a proposed transfer and just that delay can render the transfer useless. Further, the buyer has to pay for cost of the analysis on top of the purchase price of the water and the carriage water. The whole transfer has to happen within weeks or months to be useful, and CEQA is a pretty outsized burden on anything but large, ongoing transfers. I get why the Drought Proclamation waived it. (I also acknowledge that Jerry Brown personally dislikes CEQA and may be seizing an opportunity.)
10. This item addresses one of the genuine problems of the drought, and one that doesn’t get much political attention. Small communities (in the Valley, along the coast, up in the foothills) on wells are pretty fucked in a drought like this. It poses real problems, because they are small and widely distributed (and thus expensive to help) and mostly don’t have their own wealth to tap. What do we do? Truck in water? Move them elsewhere? Nothing? What are our societal obligations to people who have chosen to live in situations where their own wealth cannot buffer them against variability? If you are thinking of farm laborer towns, you may be sympathetic. When I am thinking of people who move to beautiful places for a picturesque life remote from infrastructure, and who have perhaps been unwilling to spend in advance for reliability, I am less sympathetic.
My strength is not what it was, dear friends. I must recover before attempting items 11-20.